Tense times are expected for Mediobanca in the run up to the Shareholders’ Meeting on 28 October, the day on which voting will take place for the renewal of the Board of Directors of the Milanese investment bank.
For days rumors have been doing the rounds in Italian business circles of an alternative third proposed slate of directors that would compete for shareholder backing with the existing board and with a list of directors proposed by Assogestioni, the association of Italian investment managers.
However, it was not a list coming, as many had expected, from Leonardo Del Vecchio’s Delfin. Del Vecchio may have recently announced that he had exceeded the 10% ownership threshold in Mediobanca but has claimed he had no plans to present a list of candidates for the majority of directors.
In the event it was little-known London based activist fund called Bluebell, run by Giuseppe Bivona and Marco Taricco, that presented a list for the board of Mediobanca. An even bigger surprise was the identity of one of their backers – an investment company, Novator Capital, led by Thor Björgólfsson. Thor is a member of a wealthy Icelandic family and he is most famous as the former owner of Landsbanki, one of the largest banks in the country which ended up bankrupt, costing taxpayers from the UK and Iceland billions.
The London activist presented four names, but little is known about them. Financialblogger.co.uk tried to build their profiles, based on the scanty publicly available information.
First on the list is William Nott, who worked for EFAMA, the “voice of the European investment management industry” from 2013 to 2019 before becoming CEO of the Swiss Banca Syz Asset Management. These are experiences in the field of asset management that seem to be in favour of the candidate presented by Bluebell, but paying attention to the dates it can be noted that the last professional experience, ended on 30 September, raises a conflict of interest issue in relation to the requirements of professionalism and honourableness ECB. In fact, In fact, Banca Syz Asset Management carries out activities in competition with the Mediobanca Group.